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Barcelona Sets Timeline to Phase Out Tourist Apartment Rentals by 2028

by CiCi
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Barcelona, Spain’s leading tourist destination, has unveiled plans to prohibit short-term apartment rentals to tourists by 2028, a move aimed at addressing housing affordability and inequality exacerbated by mass tourism.

Mayor Jaume Collboni announced in a press conference that the city will not renew any of the existing 10,101 tourist licenses granted to landlords once they expire in November 2028. These properties, currently advertised on platforms like Airbnb and Homeaway, will be repurposed to accommodate local residents, aiming to alleviate the strain on housing availability and affordability.

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Collboni emphasized the impact of short-term rentals on the local housing market, attributing a 68% rise in rents and a 38% increase in home purchase costs over the past decade to the influx of foreign tourists seeking temporary accommodations in Barcelona.

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The mayor defended the decision against criticisms of infringing on property rights, stating that reallocating these units to long-term rentals would effectively add the equivalent of 10,000 new homes to the city’s housing stock. He highlighted the urgent need for increased housing supply to combat soaring rental prices, which have surged by 70% in the past decade, making living in Barcelona increasingly unaffordable for many residents, particularly young people.

The proposal, part of a broader national effort to mitigate the adverse impacts of mass tourism, aims to address longstanding issues of housing scarcity exacerbated by insufficient new construction relative to rising demand.

While some left-wing councillors expressed concerns about the delayed implementation timeline, arguing for more immediate relief for residents affected by current housing challenges, right-wing critics condemned the measure as a threat to property rights and likened it to authoritarian regimes.

Opponents, including the Association of Tourist Apartments of Barcelona, criticized the plan, warning of an increase in illegal rentals if legal options are curtailed. They characterized the policy shift as a diversion from broader housing policy failures under Collboni’s administration.

Barcelona’s move reflects a growing global trend where cities confront the impact of mass tourism on local housing markets and communities. In Spain, protests against tourism’s environmental impacts and its role in displacing locals have gained momentum, underscoring widespread discontent with current tourism management practices across the country.

The Barcelona City Council expects to finalize the decision on the phased rental ban by August 2028, with public feedback invited until the preceding July.

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